Fun Facts About Romania

April 6, 2023

Paul Kay

Have you considered Europe vacation ideas? We have fun facts about Romania in this post. Romania is a country located in southeastern Europe and is the largest country in the Balkan Peninsula. It shares borders with Hungary, Serbia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Moldova. Romanian is the official language of Romania and is a Romance language that is closely related to Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. We can’t talk about Romania without mentioning Dracula. Romania is famously associated with the legend of Dracula, the fictional vampire created by Bram Stoker. The medieval Castle of Bran is shown above. It’s known for the myth of Dracula. The character is based on the historical figure Vlad the Impaler, a medieval ruler who was known for his brutal tactics. Dracula is known all over the world, but Romania has much more to offer than Dracula. Are you intrigued yet? Perhaps this needs to be a destination vacation spot for you?  As a world traveler, here are some fun facts to consider about Romania.

In ancient times, the region that is now Romania was inhabited by the Dacians, a Thracian people who established a powerful kingdom in the 1st century AD. The Roman Empire conquered the Dacians in 106 AD, and the region became known as Dacia. The Romans established a province of Dacia and brought Roman culture and language to the area.

Panorama of peaks in Carpathian mountains.

The Dacians were an ancient Thracian people who lived in the region that is now Romania, as well as parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. They are believed to have originated in the Carpathian Mountains, and they established a powerful kingdom in the 1st century AD.

The Dacians were skilled metalworkers and had a complex society with a powerful ruling class. They built fortified settlements and had a well-organized military. They worshiped a pantheon of gods, with Zalmoxis as the supreme god, they had a developed religion which was a mix of animism, ancestor worship and shamanism.

Statue of the Roman Emperor Trajan

In the 2nd century BC, the Dacians came into conflict with the Roman Republic, and in 101-106 AD, the Roman Empire launched a large-scale campaign to conquer Dacia, under the command of Emperor Trajan. The Dacians were eventually defeated, and the Romans established the province of Dacia, which covered much of modern Romania. The conquered people adopted many Roman customs and language, so that the Romanians of today can trace their ancestry to the Dacians. The Dacian culture and language were eventually assimilated into the Roman culture, but many elements of Dacian culture have been preserved in Romanian folklore and traditional customs. In modern times, the Dacians have become a symbol of national identity for the Romanians, and their legacy is celebrated in Romanian history, culture, and archaeology. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the region came under the control of various barbarian tribes. In the 7th century AD, the Slavs arrived, and the native population adopted many Slavic customs and language.

Byzantine Empire Map

In the Middle Ages, Romania was ruled by the Byzantine Empire, the Bulgarians, and the Hungarians. The Byzantine Empire was the continuation of the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. The Byzantine Empire was centered in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), and it lasted for over a thousand years, until it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. As you can see from the map quite a bit of Eastern Europe was part of Byzantine Empire. The empire also included modern-day Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and parts of Italy, North Africa, and the Balkans.

The Byzantine Empire was a powerful and influential state in the Middle Ages, and it played a major role in the development of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. It was a Christian empire, and it was a major center of Christianity, with the Eastern Orthodox Church as the dominant religion.

The Byzantine Empire had a complex and diverse culture, with a blend of Greek, Roman, and Eastern influences. It was known for its art, literature, and architecture, including the Hagia Sophia, which is considered one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of all time.

The empire was ruled by a succession of emperors who had absolute power and was considered to be a representative of God on earth. The empire was divided into themes (provinces) and was ruled by an appointed governor. The empire was also known for its powerful army, which was able to repel invasions by the Persians, the Arabs, and the Bulgars.

The Byzantine Empire was also known for its diplomacy and its ability to maintain good relations with its neighbors, as well as its ability to protect its borders. It was also a major center of trade and commerce, connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Mehmed II The Conqueror

The Byzantine Empire, weakened by centuries of internal strife and external pressures, was unable to mount an effective defense against the Ottoman forces. Despite putting up a valiant fight, the Byzantine defenders were eventually overwhelmed by the superior Ottoman army, and Mehmed II succeeded in capturing Constantinople in May 1453. Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror was the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, which had been steadily expanding its territory and power in the eastern Mediterranean and Balkans. In 1453, he launched a massive invasion of the Byzantine Empire, with the aim of capturing its capital city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). 

Today, the Byzantine Empire is remembered for its rich culture, art, and architecture, and its legacy can be seen in the Eastern Orthodox Church and in the cultures of the Eastern Europe, including Romania, the Middle East and North Africa.  In the 13th century, the principality of Wallachia and Moldavia emerged as independent states, laying the foundation for the modern country of Romania.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Romania experienced a period of economic and cultural growth, known as the "Golden Age." During this time, Romania achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire and became a modern, industrialized nation.

During World War II, Romania initially aligned with the Axis powers, but switched sides to the Allies in 1944. After the war, Romania came under Soviet control and became a communist state. Nicolae Ceausescu  became the country's leader in 1965, and his regime was characterized by a cult of personality, repression of political dissent, and a lack of economic prosperity.

Nicolae Ceausescu was the communist dictator of Romania from 1965 until his overthrow and execution in 1989. He served as General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as the country's head of state from 1967 to 1989. Ceausescu came to power during a period of relative liberalization in Romania and Eastern Europe, but he quickly consolidated power and established a brutal, Stalinist regime. He suppressed political opposition, controlled the media, and used secret police to maintain a climate of fear. He also oversaw a period of rapid industrialization and modernization, but at the cost of widespread poverty, food shortages, and environmental degradation.

Nicolae Ceausescu communist dictator of Romana from 1965 to 1989

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Ceausescu ’s regime became increasingly isolated both domestically and internationally, as his policies grew more repressive, and his cult of personality became more pronounced. He also became increasingly paranoid and was known for his brutal repression of dissent. In December 1989, a popular uprising against Ceausescu ’s regime erupted in Timisoara, Romania, and quickly spread to other cities. Ceausescu attempted to put down the rebellion with a brutal crackdown, but the military and security forces began to defect to the opposition. On December 22, Ceausescu and his wife Elena were captured while trying to flee the country. They were quickly put on trial, found guilty of genocide and other crimes, and executed on December 25,1989.

Ceausescu ’s overthrow marked the end of communism in Romania, and the beginning of a new era in the country's history. Since then, Romania has made significant progress in consolidating its democracy and improving its economic situation, although corruption remains a problem. The majority of Romanians today have a negative view of Ceausescu and his legacy, and many view the fall of his regime as a crucial turning point in the country's history.

Romania joined the European Union in 2007, becoming one of the latest member states. Today, Romania is known for its rich culture and history, including its art, architecture, and traditional customs and festivals, as well as its beautiful landscapes and scenic countryside. Romania has many tourist attractions that showcase its rich history, culture, and natural beauty. Here are some of the main tourist attractions in Romania:

Bran Castle on a sunny day, Brasov, Romania

Bran Castle: Also known as Dracula's Castle, Bran Castle is a medieval fortress located in the town of Bran. It is famous for its association with the legend of Dracula and is one of Romania's most popular tourist attractions. You can take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its history and architecture. You can see the rooms, chambers, and hallways where Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula, is believed to have stayed. The castle also houses a museum that displays artifacts and exhibits related to Romanian history and culture.

Peles castle Sinaia, Romania

Peles Castle is located in the Carpathian Mountains, and it is about an hour car drive from Bran Castle. Peles Castle is a stunning Neo-Renaissance palace that served as the summer residence of the Romanian royal family.

Transfagarasan Highway (Transfagarash), the most beautiful and dangerous road in Europe Romania

Transfagarasan Highway: This winding mountain road is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world. It offers stunning views of the Carpathian Mountains and passes through several tunnels, bridges, and hairpin turns.

The Humor monastery, one of the famous painted monasteries of Bucovina, Romania

Painted Monasteries of Bucovina: These UNESCO World Heritage sites are a series of eight Orthodox monasteries located in northern Romania. They are famous for their vibrant frescoes that depict scenes from the Bible and the lives of saints.

Panorama of impressive Palace of the Parliament (Republic's House) is seat of Parliament of Romania, located atop Dealul Spirii in Bucharest, national capital, is the heaviest building in the world

The Palace of the Parliament: This massive government building in Bucharest is one of the largest administrative buildings in the world. It was built during the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu and is a testament to his megalomaniacal vision for Romania. Construction cost for the building was very expensive, and it is estimated to have cost over $3 billion. The building's construction required demolishing one-sixth of Bucharest's historic city center, including churches, synagogues, and historic buildings. The Palace of the Parliament holds several world records, including the heaviest building, the largest civilian building, and the most expensive administrative building in the world.

Danube Delta: This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is one of Europe's largest wetlands and is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including rare birds like the pelican and the pygmy cormorant.

Sighisoara Citadel Sighisoara Romana UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sighișoara Citadel: Located in the historic town of Sighișoara, this well-preserved medieval citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is known for its colorful houses, cobbled streets, and clock tower.

Merry cemetery in Sapanta village, Maramures county, Romania

The Merry Cemetery is in the town of Sapanța. This unique cemetery is known for its brightly colored gravestones that feature humorous epitaphs and scenes from the lives of the deceased. The Merry Cemetery was created in the mid-20th century by a local artist named Stan Ioan Patras, who wanted to add some humor and color to the solemn tradition of Romanian grave markers. Decorations: The cemetery's headstones are made of wood and are painted in bright colors, with intricate carvings and humorous poems that tell the story of the person's life, including their accomplishments, personality traits, and even their vices. The overall theme of the Merry Cemetery is one of celebration rather than mourning, and the epitaphs often poke fun at the deceased in a lighthearted way, rather than being solemn or sad. The Merry Cemetery is not only a unique tourist attraction but also an important cultural artifact that reflects the traditions and beliefs of the local community. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered an important part of Romania's cultural heritage.

There is plenty to see in Romania besides hanging out with Dracula. He might get all the attention but Romanians are proud of their country and want you to see more than Bran Castle. Most Romanians are multilingual, friendly, and very helpful. Romanians are proud of their cultural heritage and are often eager to share it with tourists. They may recommend local museums, galleries, and festivals where visitors can learn about Romania's history and culture. Hopefully you will add Romania to your destination vacation in Europe.

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